Impediments to Participation by African-Americans in Medical Research Studies

A research study conducted by V L Shavers-Hornaday, C F Lynch, L F Burmeister, and J C Torner was featured in The National Library of Medicine. The team embarked on a quest to find out why African Americans are underrepresented in medical research studies making approximately 15% of all participants. Rooting from the clear fact that African-Americans are fewer and less represented compared to their counterparts, this study established what lies behind this occurrence.


To carry out the process, the team looked into various aspects. These included the historical relationship between African-Americans and medical researchers, the attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of potential participants and researchers as they relate to the low representation of African Americans in medical research. Indeed, there were several things lurking in the waters as various individuals came about to open up and contribute to the research. This would ultimately remove blocks for future African American generations in making their voices heard in Medical Research.

V L Shavers-Hornaday, C F Lynch, L F Burmeister, and J C Torner established that the factors identified as possible impediments to African-American participation included the following:

  • Distrust of the medical/scientific community
  • Poor access to primary medical care
  • The failure of researchers to recruit African Americans actively
  • The alienation of minority health professionals
  • Lack of knowledge about clinical trials
  • Language and cultural barriers

These are some of the factors that the study revealed were to blame for the underrepresentation. The team shed light on where the problem was and went on to propose a way forward.

How do you think you would make your contribution to changing the narrative of African-American underrepresentation? Perhaps this could include ensuring that African-Americans already in the field would hold the light for those yet to join in despite their interest in the field. This could be joining communities that support entry, educate, empower and back new & existing professionals towards thriving in the field.

Would you like to join the force that is reaching out for diversity and equal representation in Clinical Research? Join our Facebook group here!

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